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Title Long-term effects of satellite megaconstellations on the debris environment in low earth orbit
URL
Publication Date
Date Accessioned
Degree MS
Discipline/Department Aerospace Engineering
Degree Level thesis
University/Publisher University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
Abstract This thesis examines the potential long-term impacts of satellite megaconstellations in Low Earth Orbit, with a focus on how post-mission disposal rates for megaconstellations will affect their contributions to orbital debris over the next 150 years. A new, medium-fidelity simulation for modeling orbital debris is developed and described, and several test cases are run with SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation and varying success rates for post-mission disposal. In cases where Starlink’s post-mission disposal rate is insufficient to prevent debris growth, varying amounts of active debris removal are explored as a potential mitigation measure. It is shown that LEO debris levels will grow at almost double their baseline rate if Starlink meets only the minimum regulatory requirements for post-mission disposal, and even relatively high rates of active debris removal cannot always return the LEO environment to its non-megaconstellation baseline. Still, the potential exists to minimize the debris-generating effects of large megaconstellations like Starlink if post-mission disposal rates of 95% or better can be achieved.
Subjects/Keywords space debris; megaconstellations; active debris removal
Contributors Ho, Koki (advisor)
Language en
Rights Copyright 2020 Brian Hardy
Country of Publication us
Record ID handle:2142/108004
Repository uiuc
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2020-12-04
Grantor University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Issued Date 2020-05-11 00:00:00

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…deployment to assess the actual failure rate over time. 1.4 Active Debris Removal As megaconstellations insert potentially thousands of satellites into an ever-growing debris environment, there is a renewed need to actively counter debris growth to preserve…

…proposed solution is active debris removal, whereby specialpurpose spacecraft capture existing debris to reduce future collision rates. With careful selection criteria for what debris is targeted and removed, there are both present and future benefits of…

…own debris.) Still, in spite of technical and legal difficulties, active debris removal could prove vital to preserving the future LEO environment. 1.5 Thesis Structure The previous sections introduced the motivation for this thesis and provided…

…background information on orbital debris, megaconstellations, and active debris removal. In the next chapter, a literature review summarizes the study of the orbital debris environment over the past several decades. The third chapter then details a new…

…megaconstellations, and active debris removal. Notable publications are summarized in the sections below, beginning with foundational work in the 1970s and 1990s. Later work on orbital debris and megaconstellations is then divided into two categories: semi-analytical…

…defined by computational-intensive simulations with full force orbit propagation. Finally, the literature review concludes by summarizing recent publications on the effects of active debris removal, including an interesting series of studies that approach…

debris growth into the far future is not considered. To understand the future impact of increased collision rates, as well as study potential mitigation strategies like active debris removal, one must turn to numerical simulations. 2.4 High-Fidelity…

…numerical simulations and the statistical methods discussed previously. 16 2.5 Effects of Active Debris Removal Lastly, a significant body of literature has also explored the potential benefits of active debris removal in the LEO environment. A NASA…

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